Low Dose CT Screening has proven beneficial in diagnosing cancer early
Good Samaritan Medical Center began offering low-dose CT (LDCT) lung cancer screening to patients with a higher risk of developing lung cancer just over a year ago. The medical center anticipated their number of screenings to coincide with data from national trials of 150 in the first year. However, in the last year Good Samaritan Medical Center has performed nearly 500 screenings.
“Since we began offering this screening last year, ten cancers have been detected that may have otherwise gone on to a well advanced stage without this process,” said A. Jason Zauls, MD, Cancer Program Medical Director at in the Oncology Department at Good Samaritan Medical Center. “Those patients are now under our care and will continue being monitored with annual screenings and follow-up visits to ensure their continued good health.”
LDCT screening has been shown to lower the risk of lung cancer death in patients by discovering cancer in early stages when treatment is most effective. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine determined that low-dose CT screening could result in 20% fewer lung cancer deaths among high-risk patients compared to screening with a standard chest x-ray.
“Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.,” said Zauls. ““This is true locally as well, with the number of deaths due to lung cancer in the greater Brockton area being greater than that of breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined. This is partially due to lung cancer not being detected until there are symptoms. In addition, patients who smoke often accept the symptoms as part of their habit and don’t seek medical attention at the first signs.”
A LDCT scan for lung cancer uses advanced CT technology that delivers minimal radiation dose to detect the early stage of lung cancer. It is a very brief scan (10-20 seconds) and does not require fasting, contrast, injections, or even changing clothing. It is recommended for patients at high-risk who:
• Currently smoke or who have quit smoking within the past 15 years
• Have a tobacco smoking history of 30+ pack years*
• Are between the ages of 55 – 77
• Have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer and have no major medical issues that would prevent having a cancer work-up and treatments if discovered during screening
*(a pack year is calculated by the number of packs smoked per day and the number of years smoked; i.e. two packs per day for 15 years = 30 pack years)
Patients must be referred for a LDCT by their physician and should speak with their insurance company or our financial counselors to determine if the test is currently covered by their insurance. However, the cost of the screening is quite low for those patients at-risk who may need to self-pay.